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Reclaiming Romance

MICHELLE: Oh. Hey.

DARRYL: Hi.

MICHELLE: There you are.

DARRYL: You looking for me?

MICHELLE: Um. Yes, actually.

DARRYL: Shoot.

MICHELLE: Are you busy? I mean, am I…

DARRYL: Interrupting?

MICHELLE: Am I going to be too distracting?

DARRYL: That depends. What do you need?

MICHELLE: I just… I wanted to talk to you about…

DARRYL: Yes?

MICHELLE: I heard you have a girlfriend.

DARRYL: Did you. And where did you hear that?

MICHELLE: Does it matter who I heard it from?

DARRYL: Was it Amber?

MICHELLE: No, actually.

DARRYL: Was it Jeffrey?

MICHELLE: It was Rachel. Rachel told me that you have a girlfriend.

DARRYL: OK. Not sure how Rachel knows, but what else did she tell you?

MICHELLE: Is it true she’s only fifteen?

DARRYL: What??

MICHELLE: Oh, good. So she’s not?

DARRYL: No! She’s seventeen.

MICHELLE: Darryl!

DARRYL: What? What?

MICHELLE: I’m just… I’m worried about you.

DARRYL: Why?

MICHELLE: Seriously?

DARRYL: Seriously. ‘Cause I can think of a lot of reasons why a person might be worried, and I want to know which one you think applies.

MICHELLE: She’s seventeen.

DARRYL: I noticed. And?

MICHELLE: And you’re not.

DARRYL: I am aware.

MICHELLE: So… it’s illegal.

DARRYL: First of all, the laws are different in North Carolina.

MICHELLE: I’m sorry—what?

DARRYL: Yep. Look it up. North Carolina age of consent is sixteen.

MICHELLE: You have got to be kidding me.

DARRYL: Nope.

MICHELLE: And you think that—

DARRYL: What?

MICHELLE: You think that makes it okay?

DARRYL: Why is this upsetting to you?

MICHELLE: Because you’re my friend!

DARRYL: I’m not in any danger. I’m not doing anything illegal. I’m not going to be getting into trouble. Not even with her parents. They like me. So.

MICHELLE: I just…

DARRYL: What? You think it’s sketchy?

MICHELLE: I didn’t say that!

DARRYL: You didn’t have to.

MICHELLE: Is it… is it that girl from this summer?

DARRYL: Lydia. Yes.

MICHELLE: How do you… How do you feel about her?

DARRYL: I like her a lot.

MICHELLE: That’s good. Look, I didn’t mean to—

DARRYL: I’m not having sex with her.

MICHELLE: What?

DARRYL: We are dating. We are not having sex.

MICHELLE: Why not?

DARRYL: Seriously?

MICHELLE: I’m just, I’m sorry, I’m just not sure, you know, what to do with, where to put that, you know?

DARRYL: Why do you, of all people, have to put it anywhere?

MICHELLE: Why did you even bring it up?

DARRYL: Because you seemed… concerned.

MICHELLE: I am.

DARRYL: Why?

MICHELLE: I… I don’t know, I guess just ‘cause I didn’t realize—how is it sixteen? How is that even—

DARRYL: I don’t know. I wasn’t consulted.

MICHELLE: But you’re good, though? You’re fine with…

DARRYL: What? Not having sex? Why would that bother me? I wasn’t having sex when I didn’t have a girlfriend. At least now, well… I have a girlfriend.

MICHELLE: Who’s seventeen.

DARRYL: You keep coming back to that.

MICHELLE: Isn’t it weird?

DARRYL: Yes. Which is why I haven’t been advertising it.

MICHELLE: OK. Yeah.

DARRYL: Look. I like her. A lot. We’re… compatible.

MICHELLE: Compatible?

DARRYL: Yes. She lets me be…

MICHELLE: Yourself?

DARRYL: Romantic. I can… gaze at her and have it not be weird, she’ll even reward me with a smile if she catches me at it. I can bring her flowers. I can write her really bad poems and recite them to her. I can smell her hair and listen to her breathing while she’s asleep and… she won’t judge me for it. Hell, she won’t even mock me.

MICHELLE: And you don’t think it’s—

DARRYL: Yes. I do. But when it’s just me and her, that doesn’t matter.

MICHELLE: But isn’t it like… I mean, she’s only seventeen!

DARRYL: Go on.

MICHELLE: Those things are supposed to come off as romantic when you’re seventeen!

DARRYL: Are they? That’s weird. No one seemed to think that when I was seventeen. Least of all you—

MICHELLE: You know what I mean—

DARRYL: Yes, I do know what you mean: what you mean is that those things are only creepy when they’re coming from someone that you aren’t in love with. And then you’re implying—or at least it sounds like you’re implying—that the only reason she’s in love with me is because she’s only seventeen. Well, thank you for that. As though that wasn’t exactly the ledge I’ve been trying to talk myself down from. But whatever this is, I am enjoying it. I am. And if you were really my friend, you would let me enjoy it.

MICHELLE: That’s not fair.

DARRYL: Isn’t it? Have you ever actually seen me happy?

MICHELLE: Haven’t I?

DARRYL: What do you think?

MICHELLE: You have been avoiding me, haven’t you?

DARRYL: Is that how it feels to you? Because I haven’t been seeking you out?

MICHELLE: So you were still…

DARRYL: In love with you? Yes. I mean, you know, take that word “love” with as much salt as you need to make it palatable. But yeah, I was. I have been.

MICHELLE: But why didn’t you—

DARRYL: I did!

MICHELLE: But—

DARRYL: Did I ever tell you I wasn’t? That I’d gotten over it? Did I ever tell you I’d stopped? What, you just thoguht you would say “Let’s be friends instead” and I’d stop having feelings for you? Just because you didn’t reciprocate—in what world would that mean I’d… There is only one cure for a broken heart, Michelle. It can’t be fixed. It has to be replaced.

MICHELLE: So you’re… saying that I broke your heart, and now this Lydia girl’s brought you a new one?

DARRYL: Until she breaks that one, too. She’s too good for me, I have no illusions about that.

MICHELLE: You’re pretty good, though. All right, well. Um. Good luck, I guess.

DARRYL: Michelle?

MICHELLE: Yeah?

DARRYL: Thank you. For your concern.

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About Polypsyches

I write, regardless of medium or genre, but mostly I manage a complex combined Science-Fiction/Fantasy Universe--in other words, I'm building Geek Heaven. With some other stuff on the side. View all posts by Polypsyches

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